FEATHERSTONE Rovers have been handed a double boost on the injury front.
Fears that prop Tony Tonks (pictured) could miss the start of the season have been allayed.
After having a scan on a shoulder injury he sustained last season, Tonks has decided not to have surgery.
And close-season signing Andy Bostock is also set to be available for the start of the campaign after a successful operation on the AC joint in his shoulder.
Rovers coach Daryl Powell said: “Tony Tonks recently had a scan on his shoulder and he has a bit of an issue but it is something we are going to manage through the season and it looks like he will be okay.
“There is going to be a bit of discomfort for Tony but he feels the best option is to leave it until the end of the season and I am happy with his decision. He’s a player we need in the squad and in the team so that’s great news for us.
“Andy Bostock has now had an operation and everything is fine. He got great news from the specialist when he went to see him this week.
“He trained on Monday night and worked hard so that’s another piece of good news for us because it looks like he will be available right from the start of the season.”
Powell is delighted with the progress of Stuart Dickens, Mick Haley and Iain Morrison who have also been sidelined.
Dickens has undergone a groin operation, Morrison is recovering from major knee surgery and new signing Haley required surgery on a fractured cheekbone.
Said Powell: “Stuart Dickens is more or less in full training. He worked pretty hard in the hill session we had last week. He’s been full on and he’s doing everything so he will be available right from the off. The same appplies to Mick Haley. He is training full on and there’s not much he isn’t involved in so things are looking really positive at the moment.
“Iain Morrison is well on track with his rehabilitation programme and I don’t see any issues with him. We’ll probably have to pull him back a bit because he’s working ahead of schedule and he is sometimes working a bit too hard but he’s looking fine.”
Featherstone’s promising young centre or back rower Mufaro Muvududu is in contention to be given a first-team squad number after impressing in the reserves last season.
Powell said: “Mufaro is definitely in contention. He really impressed me last year and he was right at the top of the tree in terms of the way our reserve team players were going. He certainly stood out consistently.
“At some point I’d like to give him an opportunity and that will happen during the pre-season when he gets a chance to play with some of the first-team guys and we’ll see how he handles it and slots in.
“I certainly like him as a player and you are always looking at some of the guys who played well the previous season in the reserves. You see who is in contention for a squad number and then it’s upto them really to force their way through. We have had a couple who have done that recently with Sam Smeaton and Zak Hardaker coming through.
“The signs are that we are getting everything right at the youth levels which then enables us to get players rising through to play at first-team level.
“I am not too far away from coming up with the squad numbers for the new season but I will do that when it’s right for myself and the group of players. I like to give everyone an opportunity during training to press their claims, especially the new guys coming in.”
Powell is pleased with the way the players are shaping up in pre-season training which started last month.
“It’s going really well. Obviously it’s difficult at the moment with the weather conditions but the boys are working hard. We are focussing on gym work and core skill and we’ve got pretty good facilities at Featherstone so we’ve been able to get done what we needed to,” he said.
“The signs are really good and the players are progressing in the areas that they needed to. The new players are slotting in well and I’m really pleased with the quality of players we have on board and I am confident they will fit in with what we are doing. I am delighted with the way everything is pulling together at the moment.
“We’ve set ourselves a standard and it’s about maintaining that standard and improving as much as we can.
“We know there are going to be some tough challenges and it is important we don’t look back at what happened to us last year and think it’s just going happen again. It’s all about hard work.
“The consistency we were able to deliver last season was excellent and we want to be getting as close to that as we can and be a real challenge for the opposition every time we take the field.
“I think the mentality we have at the club is great and we need to work hard to maintain the high standards we have set ourselves.
“We were really consistent last season. We had a couple of dips but we put them right straight away and that’s a sign of a good group when you can do that.
“We are looking for consistency in performances and we are looking for individuals to improve a lot. If we can get improvement across most individuals then that’s going to have a significant impact on the team.
“An area we are looking at is making sure each individual knows exactly where he has got to improve.
“We will be going through that in the next couple of weeks and sitting down with each individual and helping them to focus on what improvements are needed for the new season.”